On October 5 the whole gang (me, John, Kay, Tony, Steve, and Mary) headed to Nice which is close to the Italian border. It lies on Mediterranean coast of Provence. The topography along the coast is very different than Languedoc (our region) in that the beaches are steep and rocky (ours are long, flat, and sandy) and the countryside is quite mountainous as the Alps come right down to the sea. Our region is more open vineyards.
Although the drive to Nice is all freeway, it is still a long drive. We stayed there for two days before going on to Tuscany. Nice feels very related to Italy and this area and northwestern Italy were one kingdom, Savoy, not so very long ago. The Old Town, which many tourists miss altogether, is a small area with tiny narrow twisted streets and churches on most blocks. It reminds me of the old Jewish Ghetto in Barcelona. The rest of central nice is fillede with large architecturally pleasing apartment buildings with orange roofs, some luxurious hotels, and palm trees. The Promenade Anglais, a wide sidewalk along the beach, goes for miles. Here the Mediterranean is deep blue and turquoise contrasting with the white stucco or pastel buildings and orange tiled roofs. It looks very much like paintings by Matisse (maybe because this is mostly where he was when he was painting!).
In the large square trying to figure out how and where to go to get a good view. We went on a little train with wheels to the top of the hill by the water to the old castle site.
Looking east toward the Alps. The sky threatened rain all day but it stayed in the mountains.
Looking toward new Nice and the Med.
Large square with quite an impressive statute.
We saw Steve and Mary strolling on the rocky shore.
There was some sort of professional catamaran raise going on. Not the "America's Cup" but it seemed pretty exciting.
John and I walked up to see the Russian Cathedral which is quite the same as the beautiful churches I saw in Russia. There has been a Russian community in Nice for over 100 years but a great many "White Russians" arrived to escape the Soviet Revolution in the early 1900s.
One evening we went to a open air restaurant in Old Town recommended in a guide book. It was mobbed but we decided to wait it out. We were told to wait on the steps of the church next door which we did for over one hour. When a table finally came empty we almost got into a fist fight with some younger Americans who insisted it was "their table" until the maitre d' came to our rescue. The Americans glared at us all through dinner.
The next evening we went for cocktails at a famous and fancy old hotel on Promenade Anglais. It is the Le Negresco - quite old worldly elegant with some modern twists. The cocktails were VERY expensive but the experience as worth it.
After cocktails we returned to old town to a very nice restaurant where we had reservations - L'Esplanade - so no table grabbing competition. The food was very good - especially the bowls of chickpeas. Unbelievably yummy.
Le Negresco Hotel
A quirky piece set among medieval tapestries.
And Monday off to Tuscany!